Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) is calling on the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) to delay or reconsider the closure of Border Patrol stations in Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, and Abilene.
In a strongly-worded letter sent to USBP Chief Michael Fisher on Tuesday, Rep. Thornberry stated that the closures will leave North and West Texas vulnerable and undermine the overall effort to enforce laws and secure the nation. He expressed concern that the USBP "has not coordinated with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop an active plan to assist local authorities after the closures." Fellow Texas Congressmen Randy Neugebauer and Mike Conaway joined Thornberry in signing the letter.
"The U.S. Border Patrol made this announcement without first ensuring that local law enforcement agencies will have the necessary resources to deal with the serious illegal immigration problems in our area," Thornberry said.
During the last fiscal year an average of 142 illegal aliens were apprehended by each agent at the Amarillo and Lubbock stations alone. An additional 638 have been made just this year. The letter highlighted these statistics and questioned whether local law enforcement authorities will have to release individuals in the future if USBP or ICE agents are unable to respond to the scene of illegal alien apprehensions in the future.
"Local law enforcement officials and many other people in our area are very troubled by this announcement, and I share their serious concerns," said Thornberry. "There are a number of unanswered questions here about federal enforcement responsibilities that need to be addressed. This letter is the first step in getting those answers," he continued.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it's closing the stations in order to reassign agents to high-priority areas closer to the border. Aside from planned closings in west Texas, there are also proposed closings in Dallas; Billings, Montana; Twin Falls, Idaho; and Riverside, California.